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Dartmouth College Class of 2008

Early Decision

Only 30 percent of the 1,278 high-school seniors who applied for early decision this year were accepted. The number represents approximately 35 percent of the Class of 2008. This year marks the lowest early decision acceptance rate in over five years and comes a year after a record-low overall acceptance rate of 17.5 percent for the class of 2007.

Of the 384 students accepted early into the Class of 2008, there are 14 more females than males, and a record high 22 international students, comprising nearly 6 percent of the accepted students.

The mean SAT verbal score for the Class of 2008's early acceptances was 709, while the SAT math score rose to 718.

Dartmouth legacies comprised 13.5 percent of the accepted students with 52 legacy early acceptances, even though legacies made up just 9 percent of the early applicant pool. Students of color made up 18 percent of the early acceptances; just 13 percent of early applicants were minorities.

Approximately one-third of those who applied early received rejection letters when the envelopes went to students' homes in early December. Those not immediately accepted or rejected -- also approximately one-third of applicants -- were deferred, meaning their applications will be reviewed again in the regular admissions process. Deferred students should not hold out hope for admission, as Dartmouth normally take around 5 to 10 percent of the students from the deferral pool.

Regular Decision

Dartmouth mailed out a staggeringly high number of rejection letters Friday to applicants for the Class of 2008, as only 18.3 percent of the 11,733 students who applied were admitted -- a number similar to last year's record-low 18.2 percent admission rate.

Of the 10,000 regular decision applicants, the admission rate was just 16.8 percent.

Of the 2,143 students accepted to the Class of 2008, 384 were accepted under early decision.

Average SAT scores was 1457, with SAT verbal score at 726, and the mean SAT math score at 731.

92 percent of students were ranked in the top 10 percent of their high-school class, and 34.1 percent were valedictorians.

International student acceptances held near last year's recent high, comprising 7.7 percent of admitted students. Students of color dropped off a little from last year's record high, constituting 36.7 percent of '08 acceptances.

African Americans made up 9.1 percent of acceptances, and Asian Americans 16.1 percent. Latinos held steady at 7.5 percent of acceptances and so did Native Americans and multi-racial students, with 2.9 and 1.1 percent respectively of acceptances.

This year, women dominate with the largest-ever proportion of admits at 51.1 percent.

At a five-year high, 64.5 percent of admitted students come from public high schools, and 55 percent come from outside the Northeast region, compared to 53 percent last year.

Six percent of acceptances -- approximately 130 students -- are Dartmouth legacies.

Minority Admissions

Dartmouth accepted 44.6 percent of African Americans who applied -- 2.5 times higher than the overall rate of 18.3 percent. Native Americans were accepted at 34.6 percent and Latinos at 29 percent. White students, on the other hand, had a more difficult time getting accepted; only 16.2 percent of white, non-international students received letters of acceptance.

This kind of racial preference has white students crying foul. The Supreme Court approved last summer the consideration of race in college admissions after two white appellants sued the University of Michigan for discrimination. The petitioners alleged that the University's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The resulting decisions handed down by the Supreme Court found that race could legally be used as a factor in admissions decisions, but not in the specific way it was used by the undergraduate school. In the majority opinion in the Michigan law school case, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor declared that the Constitution "does not prohibit the law school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."

Former University of California Regent Ward Connerly has been one of the nation's most vocal opponents of race in higher education for years. Connerly lead the successful push in California to pass Proposition 209, banning racial preference in California. Connerly now heads the American Civil Rights Institute, based in Sacramento, Calif., which continues to fight nationwide for the end of racial preference and educational reform.

"Race has been a factor for all of history in the U.S. It's what led to the Civil War," ACRI Director of Public Affairs Diane Schacterle said. "There are better ways to determine disadvantaged students. Your first consideration should always be merit. If you're looking for disadvantaged students you're doing it backward."

The ACRI and many other groups fighting racial preference nationwide propose replacing the consideration of race with a consideration of financial background in order to achieve diversity through race-neutral means.

But not all minorities are receiving preference. The number of Asian American college applicants has grown substantially over the last decade, so that Asian Americans no longer receive a significant preference for being a minority sub-population. Asian Americans applying for the Class of 2008 at Dartmouth enjoyed just a four percent boost over the average applicant, being accepted at a rate of 22.8 percent.

This is partially attributable to the higher number of Asian American applicants compared to the other minority groups. A record 1,513 Asian Americans applied for a spot in the Class of 2008, compared to just 437 African Americans.

While Connerly and other opponents of racial consideration of any kind use the argument of fairness to make their point, proponents of the use of race also argue that it is a question of fairness--fairness for those who have not had as much opportunity in their lives.